If somebody took away your web connection, you’d moan a bit, but you’d get on with your life. Lose your email connection, and those nice people in tech support better sort it out, and fast!
Voice over the internet (VOIP) is a similar ‘killer application’. You may have heard of it during the ‘EBay buys Skype for $2.6bn’ deal. One of the best introductory articles on the subject is on O’Reilly
Even if you don’t have access billons of Euro, here’s a list of things that it can do for your business:
- Free calls between employees.
- Reduced cost calls to ‘normal’ telephone numbers.
- Give your UK and Irish Telephone numbers, diverted to your mobile , at minimum cost.
- Low cost link in for teleworkers call centres , instead of being in the one building, can be distributed into employees homes.
- Telephone and Video conferences at a fraction of the cost of specialised equipment.
Do you think Eircom can match 2c a minute calls, not just to Ireland, but most international destinations? Calls to mobiles are currently about 22c, but this is cheaper than many of mobile-to-mobile rates currently on offer. All this for one (very easy to use download) from Skype. There are other products, but this is the easiest to use.
On a more sophisticated level, products like Asterix give you a mini telephone exchange running on your PC. Normally you wouldn’t get too excited about this, but if your telephone system is just another web application, then you could customise it almost as easily as you do your web site. Some of the ideas that the being dreamt up are:
- Combine it with Voice Recognition software (IBM has a good package) so that users could ‘talk’ to your website.
- Interactive games, with users phoning in answers
- Low cost Data Capture (e.g. Sales reps phone in orders direct to SAP, no need for expensive laptops)
- Outbound calling with premium info – e.g. Horoscopes or Weather forecasts (be careful with this one, or your customers will not thank you for it)
How do you plan to use Voice over the internet?